Looking Glass

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 28, 2009 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

For years, I have been to focus groups where we sit behind a shaded pane of glass, and listen to people give reactions about racing. This is a way where they will be likely to give a true answer, not knowing if anyone is behind the glass, or if it is being taped.

I have heard, and learned some wonderful things behind the looking glass. It gave me the option of being invisible, and people will answer more in depth to questions they may have dodged if you were in the room. Here are some observations that I have seen behind the glass.

People overall trust the game of racing. They like the sport, but feel it is behind in many ways. They just want a fair deal in customer service. They would like to see the horses in the “secretive” barn area. Many would love to own a horse with people like themselves. For the most part, they want their kids with them when they go. They fear that the sport hides cruelty, and does not come forth with the truth. Many have wagered when their better-half thinks they have been elsewhere. Most have placed wagers with a bookie at some point.  Some would go more often if the races were held at night. Women love the game more than I thought. Older players love the idea of gathering at the track as a social event.

These multitude of ideas came from groups that were paid for telling their feelings. They may have received dinner at a nice establishment, or even money, as compensation… No matter, they told us what we needed to hear to prepare for the future. Here is something that caught me off guard.

Some fear slot machines will take away from the game, and this is why they would not support the efforts. Most felt that any kind of charitable gaming could jeopardize the future of the sport they love. This caught me, as I thought they would support gaming on any level. But, they loved racing more than I thought.

Funny thing, as I sat behind the glass anonymous to the group, I felt closer than ever to them. They had no fear of seeing a bad reaction, or watching management cringe when they made a suggestion.